Skip to Content

Arizona Travel Guide

Do you wonder what is the most geologically interesting and diverse state in the United States? It is definitely Arizona that is known for the natural beauty of its Grand Canyon National Park, incredible array of historical attractions, and natural wonders. Many travelers also travel to Arizona for mexican food, rich culture of wild west, and unique landmarks that can impress every outdoor adventurer and the most sophisticated traveler. The purpose of this travel guide to Grand Canyon State is to provide you with important and useful information about traveling to this state and its top destinations. 

Best Things to Do in Arizona

1. Take a Trip to Monument Valley

Monument Valley (the full name is the Monument Valley Tribal Park) is one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and one of most visited Arizona destinations. It is famous for its panoramic vistas, sandstone buttes, and colossal mesas. It sits within the Navajo Nation Reservation and is part of the Colorado Plateau.

However, it was not always a popular tourist attraction. Until the 1930s, it was an obscure location in the Arizona desert, and only the Indian tribes were aware of its beauty. It started experiencing popularing and attracting many travelers after John Ford’s well-known films. Today, Monument Valley is one of the top Arizona’s visitor attractions that can also be seen in many popular movies, including Mission: Impossible II, Forrest Gump, and the HBO series Westworld

It is open year-round, but the best time to visit it is the spring (March – May) and the fall (September – November). Due to the lack of shade in Monument Valley, it is better to avoid hot summer months. You should always be prepared for large crowds and higher prices in March, as it is the busiest month. One or two days is enough to explore this place, but you will need an extra day if you decide to see other attractions and places nearby. , 

2. Spend a Day In the Musical Instrument Museum

If you want to make your trip to Arizona more cultural, you should consider visiting one of its museums. One of them is the Musical Instrument Museum located in Phoenix. It was opened in 2010, and it is the largest museum of its type in the world. It is on the list of the 20 best museums in the country. Every year, the museum hosts over 300,000 guests.

The Musical Instrument Museum features a huge collection of instruments from different countries and parts of the world, and is one of the top destinations for real music lovers. In total, there are over 15,000 of musical instruments and related items. 

The best thing about this museum is that it is highly interactive. Visitors can touch and play different instruments from different countries and cultures, and take a musical journey around the world. There is also the floor where they can see the instrument restoration and preservation process. 

The upper level of the museum demonstrates different musical traditions from modern and ancient cultures across the globe. Other museums in Arizona that are worth visiting include Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, and more.

3. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the most unique natural destinations in Arizona that you should visit. It is located in Phoenix and it features over 21,000 plants, some of which belong to the unique southwestern desert ecosystem. All the plants and flowers you can see in the Desert Botanical Garden are kept in proper desert conditions that they need in order to thrive. This garden is especially famous for its extensive collection of cactus and agave plants. 

There are plenty of things to do and events to attend in the Desert Botanical Garden. For example, there are five permanent walking trails that allow visitors to experience the beautiful and unique plants that thrive in the driest and hottest parts of the world. There are also temporary exhibitions that change regularly and various seasonal events that are worth attending with your family and friends. 

4. Enjoy the Phoenix Symphony

First, the Phoenix Symphony was founded in 1947, and it was just an occasional musician group. In 1972, the Symphony started offering performances at the Phoenix Symphony Hall that was fully renovated in 2005.

Today, the Phoenix Symphony is considered Arizona’s only full-time professional orchestra that is funded by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts. Today, it is the largest performing arts organization in the state of Arizona.

The mission of the Symphony is to provide the joy of music and help Arizona become a comfortable, interesting, and safe place to live. It is considered a catalyst for compassion, discovery, connection, and knowledge. 

There are annual performances throughout the year that everyone can attend. Common guest artists at these performances are James Galway, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, and others. 

5. Explore Downtown Phoenix

Phoenix is a large city and the capital of Arizona. It is loaded with fun activities and significant attractions that are worth seeing and visiting. Downtown Phoenix is full of galleries, parks, shops, cocktail bars, hands-on exhibits, and other places that you should visit if you end up in this beautiful city

Many people also travel to this city to enjoy live music, meet other people, and taste quality craft beer. Thanks to the Valley Metro Rail, you do not need to have a car to travel around Phoenix. By using public transport, you can easily visit famous historical areas in the city, including a walkable arts district and Roosevelt Row. 

Downtown Phoenix also has over 200 restaurants, so you will never be hungry in Arizona’s capital. It also has plenty of rooftop bars and lounges with live music where you can spend a fun and unforgettable night with a good company. If you want to explore the Downtown during the day, you should visit its museums, art galleries, theaters, and other destinations that will allow you to learn more about the city’s culture and history.  

6. Enjoy Your Time in Coconito National Forest

How about seeing one of the most biodiverse national forests in the US? Then, you should consider spending a day in Coconito National Forest – a park that features ponderosa pines, deer, elk, ospreys, and other species of plants and animals. It is located south of Flagstaff and is nestled between other national forests. 

Coconito National Forest is also one of the best places in Arizona for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are over 300 hiking trails for hikers, horseback riders, and bikers. If you are looking for something more low-key, you can enjoy your stay in one of the campsites and try fishing. In the winter months, this park becomes a wnderland oasis for cross-country skiers, sledders, and snowshoers. 

Where to stay in Arizona

If you are planning an Arizona trip, especially for the first time, it might be hard and challenging to decide where to stay and how to find quality and affordable accommodation addressing your needs and preferences. In this Arizona travel guide, we have decided to create a list  of the best places to stay that you should consider – whether you are traveling by yourself or with your family and friends:

How to Get Around in Arizona

Unfortunately, Arizona does not have such an impressive and extensive subway system as  San Francisco or  New York, for example. However, the public transportation system in Arizona is quite reliable and well-structured. It is served by buses, streetcars, planes, and rental car services Lyft and Uber. 

Five big airports in Arizona: 

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – the main and the biggest airport in Arizona that provides services to over 100 cities in the United States and other countries. 
  • Phoenix-Mesa Gateway – this airport is located near the Polytechnic Campus of Arizona State University, and it is home to various low-cost airlines, including Allegiant. 
  • Tucson International Airport. – it is the main airport in Southern Arizona, and it provides nonstop service to over 20 American cities in the United States and Canada. 
  • Flagstaff Pulliam Airport – it is the airport where United and American Airlines offer flights to some cities in the United States, including Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, and Fort Worth. 
  • Yuma International Airport – this airport offers flights to a few American cities, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Denver. 

There are also trains in Arizona, and the train service is primarily offered by Amtrak. It operates such stations in Arizona as Flagstaff, Tucson, Kingman, Benson, Yuma, and more. 

Travel Tips Arizona

As mentioned above, Arizona is one of the most diverse and photographed states in the United States. Thousands of people travel to Arizona to see its magnificent rock formations, slot canyons, scenic landscapes, and other Arizona destinations.

However, visiting the state without knowing anything about the state and what exactly you are signing up for. For this reason, here is a list of a few tips that will help you plan your trip correctly.

Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is coverage that protects you against financial losses and various risks that could happen while traveling. The risks can be minor, such as a missed flight or lost luggage, or they can also relate to more serious problems, including physical injuries. Here are the main benefits of travel insurance:

  • Cancellation. Flight cancelations are, unfortunately, very common. Cancellation coverage provided by travel insurance will cover different pre-paid costs, including accommodation, car rental, and more. 
  • Emergency medical expenses. If something happens to you while you are traveling and you need medical help, travel insurance will step in and cover medical expenses and cost of treatment. 
  • Personal belongings, gadgets, and documents. Most travel insurance policies also cover and protect personal items that you are taking with you on your trip. However, it is recommended to ask an insurance company first to know for sure. 

Pack Proper Clothing and Equipment 

Arizona is the paradise for outdoor lovers and explorers. There are plenty of parks, landmarks, and other outdoor destinatons that you should visit and explore when traveling to this beautiful state. Therefore, one of the most important things and steps is to make sure that you are bringing proper clothing and equipment with you.

Here is a beginner guide on what to wear if you are thinking of spending a lot of time outdoors:

  • Hiking base layer. This layer includes underwear, leggings, bras, shirts, tops, and socks. The primary purpose of a base layer is to keep you dry and comfortable. 
  • Hiking pants. The main two factors you should consider when choosing hiking pants are flexibility and durability. Also, make sure to pick hiking pants that are made with waterproof and quick-drying fabrics. 
  • Hiking shoes. When choosing a pair of shoes or boots for your hiking adventure, you should not forget that shoes should protect you from roots, rocks, and other natural hazards. There are good brands offering high-quality hiking shoes, including Patagonia and Columbia
  • Backpack.  Whether you are going on a hike for several days or a few hours only, you need to have a backpack. It should waterproof, versatile, and multifunctional. 

Research the Destination Beforehand

Doing research beforehand and learning more about destinations offers many benefits. First of all, it allows you to learn more about the area or town you are going to visit.

Research is the key to a great and smooth trip. You can always find information about your destination online or read reviews on trusted websites from other visitors to know what to expect.

Local newspapers, visitor centers, other Arizona travel guides, and blogs are also good resources because they may contain information about places that is not oriented towards tourists.

Decide on Accommodation

When you are planning your trip, accommodation is clearly one of the most important aspects you should consider. You want to make sure that your accommodation is safe and comfortable and provide you with everything you need while you are away from home.

There are different types of accommodation to choose from, so it can be difficult for you to decide. In order to help you make the right choice, here is a list of things you should do: 

  • Choose the type of accommodation. There are different types of accommodation in Arizona, especially in bigger and busier cities. Hotels, hostels. apartments, vacation rentals, and more. In order to decide which one is better for you, decide how long you are planning stay and what is more important for you – the level of comfort or its price, for example. 
  • Compare reviews and prices. Based on your budget, find accommodation you need and can afford. You can compare prices on such popular websites as and Airbnb . It is also recommended to read reviews to get an idea of what to expect from a place. If you want to save money, it is better to travel during shoulder periods, when there are fewer people and prices are lower. Accommodation is also going to be cheaper if you are staying for a longer period of time. 
  • Check the services and facilities. It is worth checking facilities and services prior to booking any accommodation. Certain accommodations charge guests for services that other places do not. Also, there might be certain restrictions on using certain services. 

Choose the Season Wisely

canyon, children, hike

Arizona is among the most beautiful states in the US. It is known for its breathtaking landscapes, mysterious canyons, and natural beauty. This state is worth visiting at any time, but since the weather in Arizona is no joke, it is important to choose the right season.

The best and the most comfortable time to visit Arizona is the spring and fall, when the weather is sunny, dry, and not too hot. If you are traveling to the north, April is the best month. December, January, and February are also quite comfortable. 

If you are visiting Southern Arizona and its destinations, it is better to do it in winter. Yes, summer visits are tempting, but it is going to be extremely hot, and there is a high risk of dust storms that make any outdoor activities impossible. Winters in Southern Arizona are the best because they are mild and warm with temperatures averaging 67 and 75 degrees. 

If your plan is to visit the Grand Canyon, you should also consider spring time. The period from April through June is the best because the temperature does not get higher than 76. 

In general, it is possible to say that even though Grand Canyon State is a great state to visit at any time, but choosing the right time and visit will definitely make your visit and stay more comfortable and enjoyable. 

Regional Travel Guides